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International Manufacturers Pen Concerns Over Union Murders

A group of international clothing manufacturers have asked Cambodian authorities to investigate the recent killings of union leaders, following a spate of murders in the country's famously turbulent labor sector.

In letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen and other key ministers, Eddie Bauer, the Gap, Hennes & Mauritz, Liz Claiborne and Phillips-Van Heusen said they were concerned with the recent pattern of violence against union leaders.

They urged Cambodian authorities "to thoroughly and independently investigate" the killings in a sector that remains one of the country's main economic engines.

"As international companies sourcing product out of Cambodia, we are quite concerned about what appears to be a pattern of violence against union leaders in the country," the companies wrote in the letter, dated April 19.

"It is of the utmost importance to us as buyers that rule of law be swift, just and transparent," they wrote. "This ensures a business environment in which workers can freely exercise their right to freedom of association without fear of retaliation. It also ensures a stable business environment for us to continue to source our products."

At least three have been killed since 2004, the most recent, Hy Vuthy, of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, in February.